The world’s largest aircraft took to the skies for the first time last week with a prototype of a new hypersonic vehicle.
Measuring 383 feet wide — more than twenty feet longer than a football field — Stratolaunch’s Roc Carrier plane took off from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port on Friday for a flight of just over five hours.
The aircraft carried a prototype 28-foot Talon-A hypersonic vehicle in the center of the aircraft, allowing it to reach a maximum in-flight altitude of 23,000 feet. according to To the company.
The flight was the eighth for the Roc carrier in three years, but the first with the vehicle.
Further tests are expected in the coming months, including a test of the Talon-A vehicle over the Pacific Ocean later this year.
The purpose of Friday’s test was to measure the aerodynamic loads on the hypersonic vehicle while connected to the Roc Carrier.
“We have conducted a variety of ground tests in anticipation of this first captive carry flight, and with each successful test milestone we have built confidence that the hardware is performing exactly as designed,” Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch’s chief executive officer and president, said in a statement.
“It’s exciting to see the hard work of the team come to life and see the vehicles fly as an integrated system.”
Stratolaunch expects to provide hypersonic flight services with the Talon-A vehicle for government and commercial services in 2023.
The company describes these vehicles as rocket-powered, autonomous and reusable test beds capable of traveling at speeds in excess of Mach 5.
“Testing and production are accelerating as we strive to meet our commitment to offer our customers a hypersonic flight test service over the next year,” added Krevor.
“Our team will continue to achieve more complex test milestones as we progress to our first hypersonic flight.”
The giant Roc Carrier aircraft first took off in April 2019 and is designed to launch rockets into space.
With six engines, twin cockpits and 28 wheels, the aircraft dwarfs the size of conventional airliners such as a 747 and an Airbus by more than 30 meters.
To take off, the Roc aircraft requires a crew of three, consisting of a pilot, a co-pilot and a flight engineer.
While the plane appears to have two cockpits, a pilot and co-pilot sit only on the right side of the plane.
Meanwhile, the left side remains depressurized and reportedly contains flight data systems.
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/9663631/worlds-biggest-plane-first-flight-carrying-hypersonic-vehicle/ A new hypersonic vehicle flies for the first time in the world’s largest aircraft carrier with a wingspan of 383 feet